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2021.06.14 14:37

Russia wants to ‘swallow’ Belarus, says Lithuanian president

BNS2021.06.14 14:37

NATO must stand united in resisting Russia's attempts to “swallow” Belarus, Lithuania's President Gitanas Nausėda said in Brussels ahead of a meeting with Joe Biden.

“I think we need to have to be very clear, united and decisive to the activities of Russia. We should be united in this regard,” Nausėda told journalists in Brussels where he is attending a NATO summit.

He warned that Belarus was causing problems in the region.

“You can see what is happening in this country. A non-legitimate regime becomes desperate and is ready to threaten even the lives of civil people by hijacking an airplane,” the Lithuanian president said, referring to forced diversion of a Vilnius-bound plane to Minsk last month.

“We see efforts of Russia to swallow this country, [...] Belarus is losing the last elements of its independence,” he said.

Along with his Latvian counterpart and the Estonian prime minister, Nausėda is meeting US President Joe Biden on the sidelines of the NATO summit.

Nausėda said he expected Biden to send “very clear messages about the decisiveness and unity of NATO and will react with very clear messages to what has been happening recently. We cannot go to having closer contact with Russia until Russia changes its pattern of behavior.”

Biden is to meet Russia's President Vladimir Putin in Geneva later this week.

Lithuania is ready to host a NATO summit in 2023, Nausėda noted.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said ahead of the summit that the Alliance's relations with Russia were at their lowest point since the end of the Cold War. Tensions between the Kremlin and NATO member states flared up following the annexation of Crimea in 2014. NATO deployed international battalions to the Baltic states and Poland in 2017.

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